Aiken ups lead to two strokes after third round of somber Spanish Open

thomas aiken
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Thomas Aiken gave some spectators an up-close look at his scrambling 72 on Saturday.
PA Sport


Published: Saturday, May 07, 2011 | 12:51 p.m.

The show went on at the Spanish Open Saturday amid all the tears shed for Seve Ballesteros -- many of them inevitably by Jose Maria Olazabal.

South African Thomas Aiken still leads at El Prat near Barcelona after a third-round 72, but the whole day's play was inevitably overshadowed by the death of the five-time major champion and three-time winner of his national title.

Flags were at half-mast, players wore black ribbons and a minute's silence in mid-afternoon was followed by a round of applause.

Olazabal had just finished a 75 by then after playing with Colin Montgomerie (73) -- Ryder Cup captains both, but only one of them, of course, the man who with Ballesteros had formed the most formidable cup partnership in history.

"Olly was in floods of tears most of the day. He has lost an older brother almost," said Montgomerie, his own voice shaky with the emotion of the day.

Another Spaniard, Pablo Larrazabal, was dressed all in black as he continued his bid to put his name on a trophy that Ballesteros last lifted in 1995 -- one that made him the only player in European Tour history to record 50 victories.

Aiken doubled his one-shot halfway lead by remaining 8 under, but four players are now 6 under: Larrazabal (73), Denmark’s Anders Hansen (69) and rookies Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Romain Wattel of France. They both shot 72.

Nobody scored lower than Hansen, and while the wind and pin placings had most to do with that, the somber atmosphere probably played a part as well.

Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez -- vice-captain to Ballesteros at Valderrama in 1997 -- embraced at the start of the day and again after the minute's silence.

They have been trying to win the Spanish Open since 1983 and their wait looks certain to go on. They are both 3 over.